Sunday, 14 April 2013
A 19th Century Contactee?
Blake had experienced visionary encounters throughout his life, and the younger Varley (who is said to have “believed nearly all he heard”) was keen to get some of these down on paper. In keeping with the beliefs of his time, Blake tended to interpret his ethereal visitors as “angels”. A modern UFO believer might say this is simply pre-Adamski ignorance, and what Blake really encountered were misinterpreted aliens. But (as I’ve said before) this is grossly patronizing – it’s just as likely that modern alien encounters are misinterpreted angels!
Blake is often seen as an early precursor of the New Age movement. Like modern New Agers, he was convinced that everything the establishment taught you was wrong, and he was influenced by esoteric disciplines like Gnosticism, alchemy, yoga and Kabbalah. He even seems to have invented the term “New Age” itself – at least in its capitalized form (although to be honest, Blake tended to capitalize everything). In the preface to his poem “Milton”, he wrote: “The Stolen and Perverted Writings of Homer and Ovid; of Plato and Cicero, which all Men ought to contemn; are set up by artifice against the Sublime of the Bible, but when the New Age is at leisure to Pronounce, all will be set right! And those Grand Works of the more ancient and consciously and professedly Inspired Men, will hold their proper rank and the Daughters of Memory shall become the Daughters of Inspiration. Shakespeare and Milton were both curbed by the general malady and infection from the silly Greek and Latin slaves of the Sword. Rouse up, O Young Men of the New Age!”